Records show about half the strip clubs in Texas aren't paying the state a $5-per-patron entrance fee required under a two-year-old law that was declared unconstitutional and is facing repeal in the Legislature.
The Houston Chronicle reported Sunday that $12.2 million has been collected since the law went into effect last year, far short of the $50 million expected.
The state ordered businesses to keep paying while it appeals a ruling that the law amounts to a tax that infringes on customers' civil rights. Records show about 100 clubs have ignored the fee entirely.
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The Texas Comptroller's office is hanging on to the money during the appeal. The law was meant to fund programs assisting victims of sexual assault.
Democratic state Rep. Ellen Cohen of Houston, author of the bill passed during the 2007 legislative session, said she wasn't surprised that some clubs were ignoring the law, particularly after the court ruling against the measure.
"If they want to wait and see what's going to happen, that's their choice. They may end up having to pay it and penalties -- I don't know," Cohen said. "I do respect those clubs that have stepped up and paid."
Earlier this session, the state Senate sent a measure to Gov. Rick Perry that would have repealed Cohen's bill. But the chamber has since taken the unusual step of reversing that vote to watch what happens with a new Cohen draft in the House.
Cohen has proposed dropping the fee to $3.
The competing measure that was headed to Perry's desk, written by Democratic state Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston, would apply to adult movie theaters, adult video stores, adult bookstores and other sexually oriented businesses that charge admission fees. It would total 10 percent of gross admissions receipts.